Instead of just being a location for a day long field trip, one Museum became a classroom for one week. Elementary school students in Genesee County spent a week away from their usual desks last week to learn in a new classroom: Sloan Museum.
Teacher Jaime Cramer’s third grade class at Grand Blanc City School spent five days in a row studying at the museum.”I take my kids to the Sloan every year, and I’ve always been frustrated that I haven’t utilized the resources here. I always thought I needed more time,” Cramer said.Loe’l Murphy, assistant curator of programs at Sloan Museum, said the museum has students every day for field trips, but that those visits usually last only an hour. She and another curator worked with Cramer to develop last week’s program as a pilot to test the format for possible use with other schools.
Cramer said the educators made a point to ensure that students would spend the same amount of time studying subjects such as math, reading and writing at the museum as they would have in the classroom.
Studying at the museum
The thread that connected everything, Cramer said, was the theme of technology.
“The theme of the Sloan is technology: how technology changed from the first people, all the way through how technology changes even today,” she said.
Students covered social studies by researching technologies from prior people, and they used a STEM curriculum with science, technology, engineering and math challenges.
As an example, Murphy cited students learning about different throwing devices used by Native Americans, and then spending three days to make their own throwing devices. They integrated math into those lessons by throwing the devices, measuring the distances and figuring out the average distance from those throws.
They also went on a tour around the museum, and spoke to museum curators about how they write labels. They then used their own technical writing and researching skills by researching different technologies in the museum and making their own labels.
When asked about how students were able to become accustomed to a new class environment, Cramer said they started the week off by sending the students on a scavenger hunt around the museum. But just going to the museum every day and having access to the curators helped them get comfortable with the museum as a classroom.
The experience was special for students, Cramer said, because they had a chance to apply things they learned outside of the classroom.
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